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5 water-wise ways to xeriscape

Three-year-old Chiara Inguattoggiato gets an up-close look at the begonias in the Xeriscape Learning Center & Design GardenCenter at the Corpus Christi Museum of Science and History. Staff Photo

Xeriscaping is as easy as following these five simple steps.

1. Stick with native plants. Plants that have survived in the area have adapted to the minimal precipitation of South Texas and will require less watering and maintenance.

2. Zone your plants. Place plants with the same requirements for water, soil and

sunlight into the same areas, known as hydrozones by xeriscapers.

3. Know your soil. This is critical for a successful xeriscape. South Texas soil is typically sandy with rocks and bits of seashell, and water tends to drain right through it. To fix this, the general rule of thumb is to amend native soil with one-third organic matter — compost or well-aged manure will do the job.

4. Irrigation. While those automatic systems are convenient, research shows that automatic irrigation can use up to 30 percent more water then manual watering. No mater which option you choose, take into account that different hydrozones will require a different watering schedule.

5. Mulch. As the top dressing for all your trees, shrubs and flowers, mulch is your best friend. It helps to reduce weeds, keeps the soil cool and prevents soil erosion. The type of mulch you use will depend on your needs. Wood and other organic mulches allow oxygen to the root system more easily and can bring nutrients back to the soil. Stone mulches stay in place, but they can also heat up and damage root systems.

For more ideas and information, head out to the Xeriscape Learning Center & Design Garden to get inspired! The museum is located in the SEA District at 1900 N. Chaparral St. While there's a charge for the museum, the Xeriscape Learning Center is FREE!

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